What is an Apostille?

In plain english: It is a piece of paper issued by the Secretary of State that will make your doucments valid overseas.

​A more detailed description: Apostille is a French term meaning “certification or authenticate”. An apostille is the authentication of a document for use outside of the United States. Legally called: “Hague Convention (Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Document) ”It is the title given to the authentication certificate which menas that a separate stapled document will be added to your document.

The apostille is always signed by a Secretary of State and certifies the authenticity of the capacity and signature of the person signing the document, documents are typically singed by a notary public, County Clerk, State registrar to name a few.

What does an apostille look like?

Let me start by saying that NOT all apostilles look the same. However there are 10 elements that are part of every apostille:

Why do I need an apostille?

Documents issued in the United States to be used in another country must be “authenticated” or “legalized” before the other country will recognize those documents and give the documents the same legal value they have in the U.S.

​Before the Hague Convention the authentication procedure involved multiple authentications by different authorities including a consular officer. The good news is that the Hague Legalization Convention simplifies the procedures for documents if both countries are part of the convention.

Reasons you may need an apostille:

Anytime you plan to use a document in a different country for official use, the document must have an apostille attached to it. Think of it like a passport for your documents that allows those documents to travel to other places.

What countries are members of the Hague convention?

Click to view: apostille1.com/158

I need an apostille, how do I get one?

For State issued documents: Apostilles are issued by the Secretary of State of the State where the documents were issued or notarzed. ​Here you will find a list by State. (FL, TX, NY, NJ etc…)

If your documents are issued by the Federal Government executive and administrative agencies (FBI records, Born Abroad Birth Certificates, FDA certificates, Consular reports) then the apostille will be issued in Washingthon DC by the authentications office:

Authentications Office U. S. Department of State
600 19th St, NW Washington, D.C. 20006
(202) 485-8000 www.state.gov.

A document must go through several steps to make sure it is authentic and acceptable for use internationally.

What If the destination country is not a member of Hague Convention?

OK, you have found out that the destination is NOT an apostille country, what to do now? You need is Consular/Embassy legalization of documents is required for documents that will be used in countries that are not part of the Hague Convention. The process is similar to getting an apostille except that there is are 2 extra steps ate the Department of State and the Embassy or Consulate.